What One Must Know to be Saved: Cornelius

March 26, 2011

In an effort to revive my blogging activities, I am going to re-post some “greatest hits” beginning with this series titled “What One Must Know to be Saved.”   This is the fourth article in that series, and was first published in July 2008.

In Acts 10, we read of the conversion of Cornelius. He was a Gentile, a devout and God-fearing man who prayed regularly to God. After being persuaded to come to Cornelius in a vision, Peter preached the gospel to him.

Peter’s message reveals that Cornelius already knew of “the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” Cornelius already knew of the miracles and good works of Jesus. Peter further informed him that Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead, as prophesied in the Old Testament scriptures, and that Peter as well as others were witnesses to the resurrection. He taught Cornelius that Jesus has been appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. And finally, he taught him that forgiveness of sins comes through his name to all who believe in him.

Peter’s main points in his message to Cornelius, as recorded in Acts 10, are as follows:

  1. Jesus is the Christ
  2. Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, in fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy.
  3. Jesus is Lord of all.
  4. Forgiveness is granted to all who believe in Jesus.

Paul’s message to Cornelius was essentially the same as his previous gospel messages to Jewish audiences. Although Cornelius was a Gentile, he was a devout worshiper of God, and apparently his background of understanding was similar to that of the Jews. Therefore the same points needed to be taught to bring him to faith in Jesus.


  1. Amazing how Peter never once said you must be sprinkled as a baby, or you can believe powerful peace thoughts and hurl them to the universe to bring God’s kingdom to earth, or do “Christian Yoga” or change the gospel for seeker sensitivity… he just said Jesus is the Christ, Jesus was Crucified, burried, and resurrected on the third day and Jesus is Lord of all and creator of all and forgiveness and eternal life is a free gift granted to those whom accept and believe… Beautiful in it’s simplicity isn’t it? 🙂

  2. Speaking of Cornelius and his household, there was very little preaching done, the record reveals. As the “sermon” began, God sent for the Jews present to know a sign that these Gentile believers could be added to the Lord’s church. So they were immediaely baptized in water as Jesus had commanded was to be done. The several miracles surrounding this event were for the purpose of persuading Jewish Christians that the gospel was for all rather than only for Jews. Baptism in the Spirit was never for remission of sins. Some wrongly imagine that these who had received baptism in the Spirit were thereby saved. That’s nonsense. The apostles were the ones earlier baptized in the Spirit. For salvation? Of course not. To empower the apostles for the life-long duty upon which they were embarking. And this baptism in the Spirit was not to save the Gentile family group. It was to persuade Peter and his Jewish Christian friends that Gentiles could be baptized into Christ. Which was done immediately, as Luke records.

  3. Ray, I completely agree. I’d just add that the reason the sermon was so short, IMO, is that Cornelius was a godly man who apparently was familiar with the OT scriptures (Acts 10:28). He just needed to be filled in on a few important details.

  4. Alan, do I understand you to be thinking it was only Cornelius who that day was baptized into Christ after receiving a baptism in the Holy Spirit. You speak of Cornelius as “a godly man who apparently was familiar with the Old Testament scriptures” and “just needed to be filled in on a few important details.” We’re not told how large a household he had, but they were all there. Do you feel that all members of the household shared the knowledge held by Cornelius? I would disagree with this assumption. God sent the marvelous experience as Peter was beginning to speak, as I read the text. So we can’t know what Peter might have said as he continued. He didn’t continue. Seeing the miracle, he moved on to the baptism in water by which these Gentiles, including Cornelius, could be saved and enter the kingdom of the Lord. What “important details” do you speak of that Peter “filled in” for the household?

    • Ray, we can only speculate about the level of knowledge the others present may have had. I’m only commenting on what was stated in the passage. We can’t draw doctrinal conclusions from our guesses about the others.

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